Is my iBook hosed?
April 8, 2006 10:30 PM   Subscribe

Possible water spill on the trackpad and button; is my iBook damaged?

This evening when we were out, my mother-in-law was using my G3 iBook, and she accidentally spilled about half a glass of water on our kitchen table, very close to the iBook. She said she didn't think any water got on the machine and said it was "acting ok". However, I used it for a few minutes earlier and I noticed that the button seemed very stiff and the trackpad did not respond as quickly. Also, I have had two "spinning wheels of death" where the entire machine just completely locked up. I thought I heard a soft crackling noise on reboot as well. After this I shut it down and I am posting from another machine. Are these just amazing coincidences or are these things symptomatic of water actually getting into the machine? If it is, what is going to happen and how long will it take to notice if something is truly amiss? I have an hours-old backup and she has offered to replace the machine if it is indeed damaged. What do you think?
posted by Emperor Yamamoto's Eggs to Technology (6 answers total)
First off, ick. Sorry.

Second, how often do you reboot your Ibook, i ask because as i write this [on a G3 Ibook] i feel your pain.

If the Ibook was off, leave it off for a few days, if you have fans or a dehumidifier, put it in the room and let it do it's magic (i'm assuming it was a glass of fresh water, cause if it was salt water, you have a whole different problem to deal with)

The reason i ask if you reboot is that if you are anything like me, you don't reboot your Ibook all that often, [closing the lid and putting it to sleep is not rebooting.]

i've caught myself a couple of times thinking there was something wrong with my laptop because it was lagging. In every instance, i've rebooted and the 'problem' went away.

However, don't discount the power of something as simple as a glass of water from fracking up your machine. If it was off at the time, let it dry out and it should be fine. If not, take it to the Apple Store and let them have at it.
posted by quin at 10:59 PM on April 8, 2006

Response by poster: Thanks for the sympathy :)

I shut it down a few times a week. I rebooted it 3 times before I posted the question. The finder was locking up, everything said "application is not responding", couldn't empty trash, etc. Not usual behavior from this machine at all. Will it take long for the damage to set in, or is it instant?
posted by Emperor Yamamoto's Eggs at 11:07 PM on April 8, 2006

It could have been worse. It could have been orange juice with extra pulp.

Corrosion can take time, but the truth is most electronics don't really care about getting a little bit wet - but only as long as there isn't actually any electricity present.

If possible, take off everything you can, battery, keyboard (if it's easy, I don't know about Apple laptops specifically) and so on, and leave the thing unplugged and turned off for as long as possible to dry out. The instability might be a bit of water causing a minor short somewhere that isn't too important, and drying that water out might be all that needs to happen. Or it might be a coincidence.

I think your mother-in-law might not be telling you the whole truth. I'm not sure how water on the counter becomes water in the laptop unless it was actually water in the laptop to begin with. But maybe we can let her get away with it that part of the story this one time, she must have been completely mortified.
posted by The Monkey at 11:40 PM on April 8, 2006

Oh, another thing - it's really great that you have backups, but in this case even if the motherboard is going to die, you'll probably still be able to pull out the hard drive and put it in an external case. So everything isn't a complete loss. But with luck everything will be fine anyway.
posted by The Monkey at 11:42 PM on April 8, 2006

Response by poster: I think your mother-in-law might not be telling you the whole truth.

I am pretty sure she's not telling me everything. If she hadn't offered me a replacement so quickly I might have asked more questions. :)
posted by Emperor Yamamoto's Eggs at 11:47 PM on April 8, 2006

i'm not sure how you would get at the trackpad, but to get under the keyboard; there are two little levers, one between Esc and the F1 key the other between F11 and F12. If you gently pull these down (towards the space bar) the top of the keyboard should start to lift out.

Be very gentle here as there is a thin ribbon cable that connects the keyboard to the laptop.

If you want to air it out quickly, it might be a good idea to detatch the keyboard (but leave it plugged in). It will improve the airflow to the guts of the machine.

Also, try booting the mac in safe mode. This should help to rule out software conflict.

Good luck, i hope your laptop isn't hosed.
posted by quin at 9:15 AM on April 9, 2006

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